Notes on a Demo-Lesson by Ruth Zeilberger

By Ruth Zeilberger

A Translation from Hebrew to English, of explanatory notes distributed to the audience before a demo-lesson by Ruth Zeilberger (c. 1970) to her class in the special education school GIL-TUSHIA, Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Translated by Doron Zeilberger, Dec. 31, 2000.


I wanted to prepare you for a demonstration lesson, that I will give this afternoon. The students are retarded teenagers and young adults that work in a protected environment. Their IQ range is between 30 and 50, and naturally, some of them have a strange physical appearance, and those who are not used to work with them might get a little "scared" at first... This is the first time that the students "perform" in a strange place, that is: outside their school, and therefore I beg you to consider this as an experiment and as a lesson under extraordinary circumstances.

I'd like to make some background remarks on our work in this school. Our school, GIL-TUSHIA, was opened ten years ago, but this is not a school in the usual sense of the word, but rather a protected workshop, and it serves youth who graduate from special-education schools. Our most important goal is to train them for a working life and integrate them in general social life.

All our students are people with an average IQ in the range 30-50, who, until recently, were generally believed not to be trainable, and that it was impossible to use their limited potential. Currently there are about 90 students in the Institution, that are divided into 4 working groups, plus a kitchen group, and a transition group consisting of the youngest students.

The Institution was founded by AKYM (Agudah leKidum Yeladim Mefagrim [Society for the Promotion of Retarded Children]) in cooperation with the Municipality of Tel-Aviv. In addition to the vocational teachers there are 5 teachers who work on behalf of the Ministry of Education: 3 teachers for academic subjects, the Physical-Ed teacher, Alona Stellman, that will demonstrate to you at the end two folk dances, and myself. The entire staff of trainers and teachers are working towards the same goal: to somehow overcome the numerous and varied limitations of the students, and to create a social life in the school. Therefore both in the physical-ed and music-rythmics classes, we emphasize the physio-psychotherpic side ... It might interest you to know that in addition there is a physio-therapist that works individually with the students.

This is my sixth year in this school. At first I did rythmics accompanied by percussion instruments and a choir. Later, I also started to teach them how to play recorder. (It started with lessons to one student Haya G., whom I wanted to compensate because her handicap prevented her from participating in the rythmics lesson. Then other students wanted to learn too.) Currently, I have 8 groups, consisting of about 4 students each. I meet each group twice a week! For the demo-lesson, I am using the most advanced group, whose level, compared to normal students, is rather low. But, to them, any achievement, even the smallest, brings lots of satisfaction.

In Rythmics, I emphasize, order drills, concentration, navigation, and responding. Of course, it is very difficult to get tangible achievements in terms of music and movement. But all these exercises serve a purpose: to help them sense themselves and others, which for them is not at all simple. This enables them to be more comfortable and walk more freely wherever they happen to be ...

Among other things, you will hear a percussion band, and I would like to point your attention to the soloist, that is not only retarded, but is also disturbed, with a strong stutter... He has a very good sense of rythm, and when he sings, the stutter disappears... He suffers a lot from this handicap, and the feeling that he is the leader of the group gives him strong satisfaction.

Finally, there is one point that I consider very important, and this is the joy of doing music that enriches their dull life.

Back to:

Ruth Zeilberger.

Doron Zeilberger's Family.

Doron Zeilberger's Home Page.